ICANN Rejects Amazon.com’s Bid For .AMAZON TLD

by T+B Blog Team on May 21, 2014

ICANN’s New gTLD Program Committee voted down Amazon’s application for a .AMAZON TLD, not only in ASCII text, but also in Japanese and Chinese. In doing so it followed the advice of its own Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), which received many passionate statements of opposition. In particular, the governments of Brazil and Peru claimed that  “[g]ranting exclusive rights to this specific gTLD to a private company would prevent the use of this domain for the purposes of public interest related to the protection, promotion and awareness-raising on issues related to the Amazon biome. It would also hinder the possibility of use of this domain to congregate web pages related to the population inhabiting that geographical region.” In addition, the applied-for string “matches part of the name, in English, of the ‘Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization,’ an international organization which coordinates initiatives in the framework of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty….”

Amazon’s position has been that “Amazon” is not a geographic term and that it would be against international law for governments to intervene and prevent it from using its trademark. No doubt Amazon believes in good faith that an .AMAZON TLD is an organic extension of its intellectual property rights little different from controlling www.amazon.com,  and that all the company is asking for is a ‘.BRAND’ registry, just as many other companies have made a TLD out of their names. Furthermore, Amazon has tried to placate regional governments by offering to limit the registration of “Amazonia,” “Amazonas,” and “Amazonica” under the proposed .AMAZON TLD  to the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization’ (OTCA) and its members, but that was clearly of no interest to the opposition. ICANN’s own independent third-party analysis judged that ICANN is not legally bound to rule either way, and under the application agreement Amazon’s options are limited, so this seems to be a final decision.

Jeff Bezos’ decision to name his start-up company after a South American waterway was a quirky, interesting branding move at the time, but now it appears that it has come back to bite him in an unexpected way. The ruling will set a major precedent for brand holders trying to decide whether to apply for their own ‘.BRAND’ registry in the second wave of applications.

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